Michael Quattlebaum Jr. in 1986 in San Mateo, Calif.
Sounds like: A gender-twisted gangster straight outta Hades, blasting holes through hip-hop's hetero-normative heart, with enough wig and vocal change-ups to make Nicki Minaj's head spin.
For fans of: Lil B, Lil Wayne, Death Grips, an alternate reality where RuPaul's Drag Race is hosted by Marilyn Manson.
Latest release: Betty Rubble: The Initiation, the Brooklyn rap artisteâs first official EP, in which she titters like a schoolgirl, imitates Michael Jackson (badly), threatens to âdoucheâ and âLenny Bruceâ her enemies and drops a verse in demonic Latin, all over shuddering, eerily sparse beats.
Why you care: Whatever you do, donât say it has anything to do with so-called âqueer rap.â True, in the last year, openly gay MCs like Le1f and Zebra Katz have stepped out from behind hip-hopâs candelabra, and Blanco, who wields gender the way Ice Cube brandishes a TEC-9, is perhaps the most intriguing example, but the former Michael Quattlebaum Jr. requests that you kindly keep him out of your journalistic think piece. A teenage runaway and art-school dropout, he toiled in the industrial-punk underground before creating Mykki Blanco as a means of exploring and distorting notions of sexual identity and street life in general. It might sound like a performative put-on, but the bottom line is, Quattlebaum is as fascinating to listen to as he is to ponder. She might not look like anything rap has seen before, but ask Blanco and sheâll tell you sheâs part of a lineageâfrom Slick Rick to Lil Kim to Andre 3000âtaking hip-hopâs natural flamboyance to the next logical level. Then again, none of those other rappers ever appeared in a video wearing a dead octopus.
SEE IT: Mykki Blanco plays Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with Beyondadoubt, Isaiah Allure Esquire and Nathan Detroit, on Sunday, June 30. 8:30 pm. $15 advance, $20 day of show. 21+.